The first observations on Sobke were made on June 14. The three boxes had been placed in the form of a pyramid directly under the banana, which hung about eighteen inches above the uppermost box.
In the old world the cultivation of the banana dates from the earliest times of which tradition makes mention.
The floor is covered with dry banana leaves, but no fire may be lit in the house, which is called "the house of the Awasungu," that is, "of maidens who have no hearts." When a girl reaches puberty, the Wafiomi of Eastern Africa hold a festival at which they make a noise with a peculiar kind of rattle. She may not cut her hair or touch food, but is fed by other women.
To the left, on a gentle grassy slope at the point of junction of a broad tributary with the Teffe, lay the little settlement a cluster of a hundred or so of palm- thatched cottages and white-washed red-tiled houses, each with its neatly-enclosed orchard of orange, lemon, banana, and guava trees.
The walls were only mud, and the thatching was nothing else than banana leaves; but there was evidence of European taste in the garden surrounding the structure, and in the glazed windows and wooden door.
The narrowness of the gorge, and the excessive steepness of the bounding hills, prevented any view, except of the opposite mountain face, which was one dense forest, in which the wild Banana was conspicuous. Towards evening we arrived at another cane-bridge, still more dilapidated than the former, but similar in structure.
Small birds and fish are cooked without other treatment than a hasty cleaning; but the flesh of larger fowls, deer, and pig is generally cut into small cubes and cooked with condiments in a jar or small Chinese caldron. Birds are sometimes prepared by placing them on a spit, covering them with green banana leaves, and suspending them above the fire until roasted.
But I recall a characteristic discussion. "Please give me ten rupees for a hapless woman who has just arrived at the house." Mother's smile had its own persuasion. "Why ten rupees? One is enough." Father added a justification: "When my father and grandparents died suddenly, I had my first taste of poverty. My only breakfast, before walking miles to my school, was a small banana.
The lemon and lime are also cultivated here to some extent, and considerable attention is now being given to the Florida banana, and the olive, almond, and English walnut. But the orange interest heavily overshadows every other, while vines have of late years been so unremunerative they are seldom mentioned.
They are divided into a pig-stable and a living-room, unless the owners prefer to have their pigs living in the same space with themselves. A few flat wooden dishes are the only implements the native does not find ready-made in nature. Cooking is done with heated stones heaped around the food, which has been previously wrapped up in banana leaves.